Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said that he believes that Vladimir Putin ordered the country’s intelligence agencies to poison him, possibly to avoid a scenario of civil unrest like the one that is unfolding in neighboring Belorussia.
Speaking to Der Spiegel, Navalny who is currently recovering in Germany, explained that the use of the nerve agent novichok meant that the order came from the top.
The Kremlin critic fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow.
He was later transferred to Berlin for treatment where it was asserted that he was poisoned with a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s.
Navalny maintained that Putin was behind his poisoning, saying that he could offer no other explanation for what happened.
“Only three people can give orders to put into action ‘active measures’ and use novichok. Those who know Russian states of affairs also know: FSB director Alexander Bortnikov, foreign intelligence service head Sergey Naryshkin and the director of GRU cannot make such a decision without Putin’s orders.”
Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement. Following Navalny’s claim, Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov rebutted the statement saying that the accusations were “insulting and unacceptable”. The spokesperson accused the opposition leader of working with the CIA.
Russian officials have suggested that Navalny was not poisoned at all, that he poisoned himself or that western spy agencies had poisoned him.